Patrick L. Pyszka/Staff Photographer

Ridgewood High School Art Club students Andy Baker, Katherine
Mistal and Gabriella Marti paint windows at Eli’s Cheesecake World


students deck Eli’s cafe windows


Snow was falling Dec. 1 on the snowmen in the inflatable globe in front of Eli’s Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive. Outside, light snow was falling, dusting the top of the globe, and white lights were glittering on the trees surrounding Eli’s. Inside, students from the 30-member Art Club at Ridgewood High School in Norridge were painting holiday motifs on the windows of the cafe.

“We do this every year – for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Halloween,” said Art Club sponsor Sarah Machaj. “We print out clip art, so the students have some idea where to start. For safety reasons, we only paint a border around each window.”

Students are asked to use bright colors, and they are not allowed to sign their work, Machaj said.

“We look forward to their coming,” said Marc Schulman, owner of Eli’s. “They’re good kids.”

Seniors Katherine Mistal and Gabriella Marti, both of Norridge, share the Art Club vice presidency. “We’ve always done the New Year window here,” said Mistal, 17, adding some finishing touches to a top hat on the Happy New Year window. “We create our own ideas – on site.”

Sophomore Richard Serrano, 16, of Norridge, painted a colorful string of holiday lights around one window and added “Holiday” in script at the top. On a lower window, he painted a chimney, a rooftop and a sliver of Santa’s sack filled with presents. The students use water-soluble tempera paints.

Mistal finished her section of the Happy New Year window with a pair of champagne flutes filled with festive, bubbling – what?

“Sparkling grape juice,” she said quickly. “Of course.”